As a strike by administrative staff at Athens University and the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) continues into its 10th week, putting in jeopardy the studies of thousands of students, the government is considering forcing the employees back to work by issuing civil mobilization orders, Kathimerini understands.
Staff at the two institutions are protesting government plans to place more than 1,300 university office workers into a labor mobility scheme, though professors at the NTUA, who had been striking in solidarity with the workers, returned to work this week in a bid to ensure the start of the semester while their peers at Athens University have decided to return to work next week. With administrative staff continuing their action, however, it appeared unlikely that the two universities could resume normal operations. There were no reports of any classes at Athens University despite the return of academics earlier this week.
The union representing students affiliated with conservative New Democracy, DAP-NDFK, on Wednesday called on rectors to “to rise to the occasion, even at this late hour, to cooperate so that the universities can open.” Sources said the students might also take legal action.
Their cause has attracted public support too with more than 25,000 citizens having signed an online petition – at www.anoixtessxoles.gr – in favor of the institutions reopening.
Education Minister Constantinos Arvanitopoulos, for his part, accused leftist SYRIZA of instigating the strike action.
“It is evident that the main opposition is unable to assume the responsibility of its institutional role,” he said, accusing the party of creating an atmosphere of “polarization and open confrontation.”
Arvanitopoulos said the leftists were exploiting the “sensitive area of education” once again to create upheaval.
In comments to Vima FM, the rector of Athens University, Theodosis Pelegrinis, noted that the senate had voted in favor of lessons resuming “as long as administrative staff allow access to the classrooms.” “So I’m not misunderstood, they are absolutely justified,” the rector added, apparently referring to the striking staff.
The government has issued civil mobilization orders three times this year – in January against Athens metro workers, in February against seamen and in May against teachers.